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Food High in Potassium

Child Nutrition Basics

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Updated January 06, 2010

Bananas are one of the most well-known foods high in potassium, and are well liked by kids.

Bananas are one of the most well-known foods high in potassium, and usually well liked by kids of all ages.

Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images

Potassium is an important mineral that some parents look to increase in their children's diet, especially if kids start complaining of things like growing pains.

Although extra potassium will likely not help with growing pains, which are usually thought to be normal, a diet with plenty of potassium-rich foods may help:

  • keep blood pressure low
  • reduce the risk of kidney stones
  • decrease loss of bone as we age

Fortunately, most children get enough potassium if they are eating a well-balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, or foods that are fortified with potassium.

If your child isn't getting enough potassium or if he has lost too much potassium when he is sick (like when he has vomiting and diarrhea that leads to dehydration or excessive sweating), then he may start to show effects of a potassium deficiency (hypokalemia). These symptoms of potassium deficiency can include muscle weakness and heart rhythm abnormalities, which usually require immediate medical attention.

Keep in mind that getting too much potassium (hyperkalemia), is just as dangerous as not having enough. However, it is unusual to get too much potassium just from your diet without also taking a potassium supplement of some kind or having some kind of kidney problem.

Recommended intakes for potassium range from 3,000mg per day for a toddler to 4,700mg per day for a teenager. While few parents will actually have to count how much potassium their child is getting each day, reviewing this list of foods rich in potassium can help ensure that your child isn't leaving all or most of these foods out of his diet and may not be getting enough potassium.

Food High in Potassium

When parents think about adding extra potassium to their child's diet, the first thing they think about is feeding their kids more bananas. And while bananas are a good source of potassium, plenty of other foods are high in potassium (more than 200mg per serving), including:

  • Tomatoes and tomato products, such as tomato juice, tomato soup, and tomato sauce
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Raisins, prunes, and other dried fruits
  • Potatoes
  • Legumes, including peas, lima beans, baked beans, pinto beans, soybeans, and lentils
  • Plantains
  • Spinach
  • Papayas
  • Bananas
  • Milk and many dairy products, including milk shakes, cheese, and yogurt
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Orange juice
  • Broccoli
  • Oranges
  • Melons
  • Squash and other deep yellow vegetables

Fish, many fortified breakfast cereals (especially bran cereals), and other products made with 100% whole grain wheat flour (such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, or oatmeal) are also good sources of potassium.

Keep in mind that unlike other vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, and iron, nutrition labels typically don't list the amount of potassium that is present in foods. That makes it even more important to learn which foods are high in potassium.



Sources:

USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 18. Potassium, K (mg) Content of Selected Foods per Common Measure, sorted by nutrient content.

USDA. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005.

Behrman: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 17th ed.

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